Should Comments Section be Closed?

Raghuram Sukumar Edu News 21 Comments

From Nirmal.

I thank HSB for the great work. I have almost completed applying for fall 2012.

The guidance given here is like it is from a next door neighbor or a close relative.

The blog has helped me so much and it would have been so difficult or even impossible for me to apply without HSB as i am not interested in going through an agency.

I also found that many people have been asking questions in the comments which go unanswered but those problems had been dealt with in earlier posts.

So i am writing this so that the readers make the best use of HSB. There are always some new question but there are so many common queries which have been discussed in several articles.

I see there are comments which are so deviating from the current article. This i guess i probably because some students read the latest article and post their query in the comment section.

Sometimes they are answered and sometimes not but still, more information is available in earlier posts too. So do search the older articles.

And i have another request for the readers. When you post an article and HSB gives a suggestion, please do comeback later and give your feedback on the suggestion and how well it worked.

I have even seen students sharing their experiences even about their drawbacks and what not to do with their personal experiences. So anyone getting guidance can also do others a favor by coming back and give a comment later. Happy new year.

***

Why Comments Matter

Nirmal – Thanks for your post.

If you see, most of my articles will have following line at end of the post

“If you additional questions, post them in the comments section below”

But, unfortunately, very few readers post the comments.

There are a handful of readers who post comments frequently. When those readers (who I can recognize from frequent comments) ask questions (via email) I reply to them. I don’t reply to them with email general template.

If they are taking time to participate in the community, then its fair to spend few minutes of my time to reply.

When you post your comments after login, your name will have hyper link to your profile 9(see image below).

Atleast once in a week, I think about disabling comments section completely.

At times I spend few hours writing a post and one or two readers post a comment.

Example 1

I’m sure there are several student who read the post should have traveled within USA. They could have added few lines about their experience.

Example 2

I answered 20 questions from 20 Fans. Those 20 fans couldn’t find time to post a comments. Do you think, I would do another round of Facebook Questions?

Even when I answer question, the person who posted the question doesn’t care to comment (most of the times).

2 Types of Readers

  • Active Readers
  • Passive Readers

Active Readers

  • Registered Member of the HSB Social Community (or non-registered)
  • Post Comments for Blog posts, answers questions.
  • Shares experiences
  • Asks questions, provides feedback (via email)

Passive Readers

  • Registered Members (few)
  • Never posted more than 5 comments
  • Writes email  “I’m long-term reader, this is my first comment or questions to you”

I have read so many articles on increasing readers participation (and comments) and follow blogs where people post ton of comments for a single blog post.

I realized, blog posts that gets lots of comments has social savvy readers. They know the importance of having a brand and public presence.

Even if they don’t have anything to add to the such post, they will post a comment like “Nice post, this is how I plan to use your idea.”

Readers of HSB, even though they have Facebook Account and spend lot of time browsing internet, they are yet to realize the advantages of being social savvy.

If you plan to study in USA and work in USA, then having strong social presence will help with your job search.

How to Post Comments

Refer to the image below to see the right way to post comments.

Changes to Comments

I have few changes that I can do about comments

  1. Delete unrelated comments to the post
  2. Comments allowed only for Registered Members
  3. Remove comments section completely
  4. Private Blog for Top Commentators (free)
  5. Incentives for being active reader
  6. Mark important posts Members Only (paid)

If you have additional suggestion, share them here.

Comments

  1. Are the comments still being moderated like the way before? ? If that was the case I would have seen a drastic fall in typical comments carrying acad profile and test scores and asking to pick the universities (Which rarely appears true). Not to offend anyone and with due respect to your efforts, it so happened to me in last about few months that the blog is inclining to gather more members than directing the right amount of information to the existing followers. All in all the good work is still eternal. Do continue to post and educate. Good luck!

    1. Comments are semi-moderated. Sometimes it has to be about increasing members too. Remember – HSB is still Free.

      1. No matter how it is. . Do stand by the quality. Everything follows it. No one would bother to read all the comments (which most of the times ask evaluations) and to be honest I myself have shut the window several times for that. Its not a bad thing to answer for them, but I just suggest to make a separate podium for that. That may indeed reduce the unnecessary comments flowing in at every post. Gd luck!

  2. hi HSB,
    I’ve done with my GRE and TOEFL with scores of 297(q-158,v-139) and 85 respectively. I have 67% in my academics with 6 backlogs (no current backlog). I am planning for MS in US with a specialization in electronics. Could you plz suggest me some of the universities according to my profile….

    1. Perfect example of what its said not to do in this post. Writing comments is good, but you need to know the relevance of the topic discussed. Why show your ignorance?

      1. Hello sir,
        I am registered user of HSB,and i commented through my profile ,but somehow those comments are not appearing,may be as you said they were removed as the comment was not according to topic discussed ..Well the old post i saw,where i could actually comment ,had no comment section…I completed my BE in computer engineering in aug 2011,and working now,so my question is,that i want to pursue for network security ,but i am not aware about colleges offering that program and its scope…So please help,,and sorry if commented in wrong topic…

  3. Thank you HSB, this was long required. Even I most times end up reading only. In fact whenever I want to comment there is flurry of unrelated comments before or after- making me think that the effort (no matter how small) may not be worth it( no offense to you).

    But all in all I will from now try to comment and post my views too…and yes I have traveled USA..went on Internship at University of California Los Angeles/ UCLA as most know it. Been student representative in Europe as well. You actually made me realize the importance of blogging active.

    ~~Kudos~~

  4. But from my view comments section should not be closed HSB though some irrelevant comments come…
    But we always learn something through the comments section.

  5. Alright HSB. 2 cents from me :

    I believe that since this blog is from a single source (you), shutting down the comments shall
    1) Make the blog feel “restricted” (howsoever reader experiences you might post, it shall still feel closed to the reader)
    2) Increase mails/queris to you drastically

    Comments are a great if channelized properly. You’re doing the right thing by not succumbing to the feeling you get once each week and continuing the comments further on.

    1. You are absolutely correct. Contact form was not there for long time. People used to contact me by following via Twitter and then sending DM.

  6. Below are a few reasons I believe why people don’t post comments and my suggestions :
    Kindly consider caps as headings, not the usual (shouting) interpretation .

    1) COMMENTS SECTION IS ALREADY BOMBARDED WITH PROFILE EVALS
    Check this post : http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/gre-score-calculator-gre-exam/
    The comments section is v v long and its flooded with profile evals. Even if somebody has somthing to contribute, he/she won’t comment thinking that their comment will be hardly visible. And no one actually goes through so many comments for the few golden info-containing ones (if any).
    Suggestion : At the end of each post, write in caps/bold “No Profile Evals Please”. Delete all the profile evals (or let a moderator do it). They are gonna go unanswered anyway. Most newcomers haven’t read/remember your post about not evaluating profiles for passive members.

    2) FRAME THE FINAL SENTENCE CONVINCINGLY
    Scroll down your 1st example and try to find the line where you wrote “Post ur experiences”. You won’t find any such line. Try finding it here : http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/good-toefl-test-centers/. Get the difference ? Its partially because starting a sentence with “If you have anythign to share then ____” is different from “Post your expereinces below so that ____”. The other reason why convincing language makes it stronger is part of the reason in point 3 below.

    3) ACTIVE READERS DONT WANT TO BURDEN YOU UNNECESSARILY
    Consider the FB Q/A. People asked. You replied. They felt thnx. Asking further would mean burdening you with another response. We honestly don’t know how much pain you would want to take assume your 1st response as all that you had to say. And although a “thank you” should have been posted, I personally feel unnecessary “thank you”s and “nice” would aggravate reason 1. So HSB its your call on this.
    Suggestion : Write Also, you can delete the thank yous after reading them to keep it clean and still feel good 🙂 .

    4) FINDING OLD POSTS IS TOUGH
    I still haven’t seen a full list of all posts anywhere on the site. Say I want to read about RAs/TAs and I want to read as much as possible. The search feature is okay for somethign specific about RA/TA, but a full list about all posts regarding this would be so suprbly navigable. The search is kinda clunky with only 10 default results and the previews. Searching and Navigating are two different things. There is so much to read.
    Suggestion :You should tag your posts and let users find posts as per tags. How fo we know that there are 100s of posts about TOEFL when we can’t see any list and the TOEFL tab is just an intro page ? Via tags.

    5) COMMENTS SECTION LOOKS BORING
    I’m no a UI/UX expert, but I do believe that the narrow column of comments with a large font size, gray background and serif font is neither attractive nor inviting.
    Suggestion : Take a look at facebook style comments. FB is gradually reducing their font size as the people get accustomed to higher DPI solutions. And clarity matters a lot. People are already used to posting comments on FB (even unnecessarily). You could leverage FB’s membership platform or atleast the comments section could benefit from it.

    6) LET THE TOP COMMENTERS BE KNOWN
    Its not and never will be a community if everyone only knows “HSB”. Commenters who comment need to be recognized.
    Suggestion : Let their be a top commenter of the month, or Most overall comments, or most comments in posts tagged under a particular category etc. I know they are hard to implement but they will definitely boost the morale.

    7) LET THE TOP COMMENTS BE KNOWN
    In a post plagued with the problem described in reason 1, marking the comments with golden info is a good idea and will encourage people to comment.
    Suggestion : Add a “+1” or “Like” . Not necessarily the FB Like, just any button for agreement/disagreement will do.

    I also have a few other non-comments related suggestions that I’ll convey separately.

    P.S. Above views are intended as constructive criticisms only. Nothing harsh intended. Peace.

    1. Just realized that there is an Archives section. It still doesn’t cut it because the previews under each post don’t necessarily help. They only make the page look longer and less archive-like.

    2. I know how long it wold have taken for you to write your comment. Awesome and Thanks.

      1) COMMENTS SECTION IS ALREADY BOMBARDED WITH PROFILE EVALS
      Removing deleting comments is very easy. But, Search Engine value the comments bring is Amazing. Inspite of the value it bring, I’m inclined to remove the comment form (leave existing comments).
      But, going forward, I plan to delete comments that are no related to the post to keep it clean. Other possible solution – Hire an Higher Ed Counselor just to respond to comments.

      2) FRAME THE FINAL SENTENCE CONVINCINGLY
      Scroll down your 1st example and try to find the line where you wrote “Post ur experiences”. You won’t find any such line. Try finding it here : http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/good-toefl-test-centers/. Get the difference ? Its partially because starting a sentence with “If you have anythign to share then ____” is different from “Post your expereinces below so that ____”. The other reason why convincing language makes it stronger is part of the reason in point 3 below.

      >> Valid point. I will start making that change.

      3) ACTIVE READERS DONT WANT TO BURDEN YOU UNNECESSARILY

      🙂

      4) FINDING OLD POSTS IS TOUGH
      I still haven’t seen a full list of all posts anywhere on the site. Say I want to read about RAs/TAs and I want to read as much as possible. The search feature is okay for somethign specific about RA/TA, but a full list about all posts regarding this would be so suprbly navigable. The search is kinda clunky with only 10 default results and the previews. Searching and Navigating are two different things. There is so much to read.
      Suggestion :You should tag your posts and let users find posts as per tags. How fo we know that there are 100s of posts about TOEFL when we can’t see any list and the TOEFL tab is just an intro page ? Via tags.

      I was using Tagging, but it was creating duplicate contents. Google punishes websites with duplicate contents. So, I decided to go with Category based Navigation.
      Archives Pages – http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/archives/ should help you navigate better and link is located at Top Navigation (its been there since this design is being used).
      Search results are powered by Google Index. Over 90% of the site contents are indexed by Google. I use that search when trying to link related articles within the blog post.

      5) COMMENTS SECTION LOOKS BORING
      I’m no a UI/UX expert, but I do believe that the narrow column of comments with a large font size, gray background and serif font is neither attractive nor inviting.
      Suggestion : Take a look at facebook style comments. FB is gradually reducing their font size as the people get accustomed to higher DPI solutions. And clarity matters a lot. People are already used to posting comments on FB (even unnecessarily). You could leverage FB’s membership platform or atleast the comments section could benefit from it.

      >> Facebook Style comments are Awesome. But, comments are owned by Facebook (not stored in HSB Database). People should be logged into to facebook to comment. You can see majority of comments (visible to be) are from secondary emails and anonymous readers. So, FB comment platform will bring close to zero comments.

      I tried several comments platform, but users complained about having to press extra step (pop-up box) to post the comments. Even though the problem can be solved, it they know how to link FB or Twitter account to post comments. I tried Diqus, LiveFyre, IntenseDebate.

      6) LET THE TOP COMMENTERS BE KNOWN
      Its not and never will be a community if everyone only knows “HSB”. Commenters who comment need to be recognized.
      Suggestion : Let their be a top commenter of the month, or Most overall comments, or most comments in posts tagged under a particular category etc. I know they are hard to implement but they will definitely boost the morale.

      Its easy to implement. But, problem is top commentrs don’t have profile page or use URL field. So, only those posting with a name say “AX” will know who they are. If othrs cannot interact with them, it doesn;t server the purpose well.

      7) LET THE TOP COMMENTS BE KNOWN
      In a post plagued with the problem described in reason 1, marking the comments with golden info is a good idea and will encourage people to comment.
      Suggestion : Add a “+1? or “Like” . Not necessarily the FB Like, just any button for agreement/disagreement will do.

      > It canbe done only via Commenting platform with less perfect results. I’m great fan of commenting system. But, most of the readers don’t want others to know who they are (just like me).

      I also have a few other non-comments related suggestions that I’ll convey separately.

      Send them via Email.

  7. Comment section provides a place for interaction. But irrelevant comments are very irritating. You should always try to get rid of them.

  8. So from now on, it is not possible to post a comment with an existing HSB account?

  9. HSB,

    I used your site many times, posted a few comments few times, but didn’t feel it so important to post comments.

    Now I will definitely post, as I am confident that you value comments as much as the post itself.

    Thank you & Happy New Year.

    Nanograviity

    1. well i too will become a registered user and make HSB proud

      HSB u are doing a great job and you rock m/

      naunidh ari

  10. Do different posts have different policies for commenting? I wanted to comment on the ‘6 Options for H-4 Visa Holders’ post but couldn’t find an option to, searched for ‘how to comment’ and landed here. Your frustrations are reasonable, but in my case, your site only makes it harder (impossible?) for me to leave a comment.

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